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Evaluating Quarterbacks

NFL Betting: Evaluating Quarterbacks

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

When judging quarterbacks, we tend to look at the same things. We look at his stats. We take note at how he does in clutch late-game situations. But often times, we over-simplify the equation and shoe-horn quarterbacks into convenient, ready-made placements. Often times, we miss the boat completely.

First of all, quarterbacks simultaneously receive too much credit and criticism. If a team is doing well, the quarterback gets an abundance of accolades. And when the team is suffering, the quarterback absorbs the brunt of the backlash. Take Tim Tebow, for example. When he played well for the Broncos and got them an improbable playoff spot--he was on Sportscenter more often than OJ in 1994.

His start was not great and he caught a lot of flack, but when Denver got cooking, he was praised as a winner. Then when the Broncos started to wane, he got a lot of the blame. The talk was no longer centered on how he was the savior of Denver, but how he was the worst starting quarterback in the league. Now there was credence to both perspectives. He played well and he played poorly at times, so the mixed bag of praise and critique was justified.

But Tebow wasn't the only one on the field. There were key plays made by other players during Tebow's tenure that either helped the team win or lose. Coaches also played a role. There is a lot happening on the football field and the quarterback can't be responsible for all of it. Receivers need to make catches, running backs need to make good reads, defenses need to play well, etc.

Tebow also threw a wrench into how we statistically evaluate a quarterback. Tebow's stats were awful. His stat-line read like a Pop Warner quarterback on a run-heavy offense. His performance in his last season showed us that not all productive quarterbacks have glistening Dan Marino-like stats. Alex Smith, the 49ers quarterback, will never have stats that make you marvel, but there are other things he does that are valuable. He had an innate sense of the game, made very few mistakes, and fit the character of a quarterback running a conservative offense. On a defensive team, being a good quarterback is more about clock-control and efficiency. He's giving his defense a chance to effectively win the game.

A quarterback is pretty much a victim of his surroundings. A lot of good quarterbacks never made it. Sure, some of them just didn't have it. But how do we know for sure if some of those guys wouldn't have been successful if surrounded by better players or if in a better-suited system? Any quarterback could end up on team where he simply does not have the tools to be successful. It's not fair to judge them the same way you judge quarterbacks who have the world at their feet as far as a supporting cast goes.

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We jump to conclusions by assigning value to a quarterback based simply on the won-loss record of the team. If we were judging two carpenters, one working with a power drill and the other using a Swiss army knife--would that be fair? And why do all the other players get overlooked? If a quarterback does well, the common sentiment is that it is because he is specifically doing something right. What about his line? What about the skill players? A good block here, an improbable catch there and a quarterback can look pretty good. But it might be the other guys helping him, more than anything he is doing in particular.

And don't let the stats mislead you. It's all about winning in this business. Take New England quarterback Tom Brady, for example. The Patriots are undoubtedly still a good team and a Super Bowl contender. But his best statistical years have come in seasons where they didn't win the Super Bowl. When the Patriots were winning multiple Super Bowls, Brady's stats weren't as glistening. In the past few years, his stats have been off-the-chart, but it hasn't necessarily resulted in more success. The point is that when evaluating quarterbacks, we sometimes need to think outside the box and not just accept everything at face value.

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